The King­doms of Heaven

Euro­pean Chris­tians carved out a home in the sands of the Mid­dle East


Byzan­tine Em­pire

The con­tin­u­a­tion of the Ro­man Em­pire in the east, this pow­er­ful em­pire had a tepid re­la­tion­ship with the Chris­tian west. Al­though mu­tual mil­i­tary ex­pe­di­tions were com­mon, the sack­ing of its cap­i­tal Con­stantino­ple by the Fourth Cru­sade was the Em­pire’s death blow.

Fa­timid Caliphate

Claim­ing ruler­ship from Fa­tima, the prophet Muham­mad’s daugh­ter, the Fa­timids ruled Egypt dur­ing the time of the First Cru­sade. Al­though they ruled a rich and fer­tile land the Caliphate was wracked by re­bel­lion and di­vi­sion in the 11th and 12th cen­turies which saw the Caliphate fall to Sal­adin and the rise of Ayyu­bid dy­nasty.

Seljuq Turks

An old en­emy to Byzan­tium and a new foe for Latin Chris­ten­dom, the Turks’ em­pire was a pow­er­ful threat to Chris­ten­dom in the holy land. It was Turk­ish ag­gres­sion against the East­ern Ro­man Em­pire that prompted Em­peror Alex­ios to ask the Catholic church for mil­i­tary aid, help­ing to birth the cru­sader move­ment.


The ob­jec­tive of the cru­saders and sa­cred place for al­most all of the pop­u­la­tion of the holy land. The sack of Jerusalem by the cru­saders in 1099, an orgy of blood­shed and vented frus­tra­tions, all but wiped out the Mus­lim and Jewish pop­u­la­tion of the city at the time.

County of Edessa

The first cru­sader state to be set up, Edessa served as a bar­rier be­tween the Seljuk em­pires of Ana­to­lia and Me­sopotamia. It was also the first state to fall and did so in 1144, al­though it was not con­sid­ered strate­gi­cally im­por­tant enough to re­cap­ture.


Once the third city of the Ro­man Em­pire, An­ti­och and the land sur­round­ing it would be a con­tin­u­ous point of contention be­tween the kings of Jerusalem and the Byzan­tine Em­pire, who be­lieved the city should be­long to them.

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